Three weeks ago I decided to undertake a 15 Day Health Challenge, from Nov 15 to Nov 30. The challeng was simple. For 15 days I:
(1) Had to excercise every day
(2) Couldn’t eat carbs after 7:00 pm
(3) Couldn’t drink alcohol or beer.
The goal was to radically improve my energy, focus and eating habits in a quick 2 week sprint.
It is with great dissatisfaction that I accept that I failed to complete the challenge. I didn’t just fail on one of the three objectives, but I failed on all of them. I worked out 6 of the 15 days. I ate late dinners and outlandish burgers (they were awesome). And I drank a whole lot of beer, rum, and vodka.
To be honest the first 4 days were great. I was on a roll. I was excited and determined. Nothing was going to stop me. Until the culprits came. What do I mean by “Culprits”? Culprits were “events that happened that made it difficult to succeed” in the challenge. The culprits were 3 and they were mighty enough to throw me off track.
The first culprit was “The Wedding“. Five days into the challenge, I flew to Guadalajara for my cousin’s wedding. For the course of the weekend, I put aside the challenge in order to enjoy food, drinks and celebration with my family. Wedding Win, Challenge Fail.
The second culprit was “The Plague“. Once I got back from Mexico I caught a cold. The cold lasted 4 days. The cold came with fever, phlegm, cough, lightheadedness; the whole shabang. It really, truly, simply was “A Plague”.
The third culprit was “The Road Trip“. The last 5 days of the challenge I went on a Work-Roadtrip. We travelled to the towns of Aguadulce and David (Chiriquí) to onboard new users and decided to stick around the whole weekend doing some internal tourism. Our trip tooks us to the beautiful surf beaches of Pedasí and Venao where we partied like animals. Obviously, I indulged heavily in the pleasures of beer, burgers, and alcohol.
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Conclusion: Experiment Fail
In conclusion, the challenge was a worthy endeavour but I failed miserably. Yes, it was a radically tough challenge; but what good would the challenge be if it were easy to accomplish. Even though I didn’t complete the challenge, I’m glad to have gaines some valuable lessons from the experience.
1. Focus on One Simple Goal
It would have been easier to strive for a simpler goal, such as “Eat Better”, and arrange the challenge around it. The challenge concerned excercise, eating habits, nightlife and sleep. The health equation had too many variables. I tried to accomplish too many things at the same time. It would have been more effective to tackle 1 goal, build the habit and then move on to the next one. For example; first, I’d build the habit of exercising every day. Once accomplished, I’d then work on eating better. The order isn’t important. What’s important is to focus on achieving a single goal and give each goal the time, energy and dedication necessary to achieve it.
2. Change the circumstances/environment
It was incredibly difficult to change so many engrained behaviors with so many factors against me. Challenge 1: I tried to do exercise every day after work. The problem was that I got off work at varied times every day. Some days I had events after work, which made it really difficult to complete the challenge of exercising every day. Challenge 2: I tried to eat better and earlier. I failed because I did nothing to change the food options around me. I didn’t influece the groceries that were bought, the restaurants we went to, or the time we gathered to eat. I hope you’re getting the point by now. If you really want to change a behavior, you need to change the triggers in your environments that reinforce that behavior in the first place.
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No radical challenge for now. I’ll be working first on improving my health habits. I’m going to try to eat smaller and more frequent meals throughout the day; and when possible choose healthier choices. Every now and then I’ll try to throw a vegetable or salad into the mix. Keeping things fresh….
Cheers till next time!